Music: Death Grips

We bring this for the ones who fiend to see the truth taken back in pain
The weakness of this scene who fucks who lack the nuts to claim
The streets from which that real shit comes to push you up on game!
What's your name? Check it, bitch!
It's Death Grips!
"Death Grips (Next Grips)"

Formed in December of 2010, Death Grips is an experimental Alternative Hip Hop group that consists of rapper Stefan Burnett (a.k.a. MC Ride), drummer Zach Hill (of the band Hella), and producer Andy Morin, known by his stage name Flatlander. Their music is a unique and hyper-aggressive blend of noise, samples, noise, industrial, loud vocals, noise, and subverting and deconstructing almost every Hip Hop trope under the sun, while their live shows are infamous for their sheer, nightmarish ferocity. They're also (in)famous for confounding or deliberately misleading fans' expectations.

They're recognized as one of the most morbidly unique music acts of the 2010s, and have gained a giant cult following in the meme realm, especially on 4chan's /mu/ board.

Their discography is as follows:

  • Death Grips (EP), March 2011
  • Exmilitary (mixtape), April 2011
  • The Money Store, April 2012
  • NO LOVE DEEP WEB, leaked by the band in October 2012
  • Government Plates, November 2013
  • Fashion Week, January 2015
  • The Powers That B, a double album.
    • Niggas on the Moon (disc 1), June 2014
    • Jenny Death (disc 2), March 2015


Death Grips' music contains the following tropes:

  • All Drummers Are Animals: Zach Hill's playing has been known to break lug casings and bend the top hoop of his drums. He's fractured his own hand in a rehearsal once.
    • Rehearsal footage used in the video for "No Love" shows him drumming full-force with his bare hands and headbutting his crash cymbal.
  • Angry Black Man: MC Ride, so much.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: The whole band seems to be this, based on interviews.
  • Anti Police Song: "Klink".
  • Ascended Meme: The phrase "JENNY DEATH WHEN" became something of a meme, being used frequently as a burning question asked by Death Grips fans. On the album Fashion Week, all of the tracks' letters spell that phrase.
    • "Zach here, thanks man" finally appeared on the official Death Grips twitter on April Fools' Day 2015.
  • Astral Finale: "Artificial Death in the West" acts somewhat like this (it is the last track on NO LOVE DEEP WEB), with its spacey synth-based sound.
  • Arc Number: Three and thirteen.
    • The band is composed of three members.
    • Exmilitary, Money Store, and NLDW all have 13 tracks.
    • Government Plates appears to avert this though, as it is the first official release by them to not have thirteen tracks on it. Until you realize it was released 13 months, 13 days, and 13 hours after NO LOVE DEEP WEB.
    • Averted by Fashion Week. Justified, since the tracks' letters come together to spell "JENNY DEATH WHEN", which is fourteen letters long.
    • Both Niggas On the Moon and Jenny Death averted this.
    • I've Always Been Good at True Love (the album by the ILY's) has 9 (or 3 squared) tracks.
  • Audience Participation Song:
    • "Guillotine" really seems to be a fan favorite.
    • Everyone always shouts the "triple six, five, forked tongue" line at the start of "Takyon".
    • Audiences have also been known to shout the intro to "No Love" alongside Ride.
  • Ax-Crazy: MC Ride in most songs.
  • Badass Baritone: Ride, when he isn't screaming.
  • Badass Beard: Again, Ride.
  • Badass Boast:
    • "I Break Mirrors With My Face in the United States".
    • "Turned Off" gives us this gem:
    "I've been spinning chambers since the day I was born!"
    • The famous hook to "Beware" also qualifies.
    "I close my eyes and seize it
    I clench my fists and beat it
    I light my torch and burn it
    I am the beast I worship."
  • Boastful Rap: Oh so many.
  • Broken Record: The hook to "World of Dogs". "It's all suicide, it's all suicide..."
  • Call Back: "Takyon", "Known For It", and "I Want It I Need It (Death Heated)"note  on the debut EP would later become part of the Exmilitary track list.
  • Camera Abuse: In the "Hustle Bones" video, we see an open bottle of milk tossed into a dryer. When the dryer starts working, the bottle and milk go flying every which way, including the camera lens.
    • Let's not forget Ride viciously humping the camera in "Double Helix".
    • The video for "I Break Mirrors With My Face In The United States" consists of rehersal footage in which the camera is strapped to the performers' wrists.
  • Careful with That Axe: MC Ride's known for this—choice examples include "Voila" (in which he sounds like he's being disemboweled) "Spread Eagle Cross The Block" (SHIT IS MINE/IT'S ALL MINE/ALL THE TIME!) and "Full Moon (Death Classic)" (in which he spends the whole rap shouting).
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The whole band, or at least whoever's in charge of their internet presence.
  • Contemptible Cover:
    • The Money Store, to the point of Memetic Mutation.
    • The cover for NO LOVE DEEP WEB takes this Up to Eleven.
      • For those who have a Bile Fascination, it's a picture of the erect penis of Zach Hill in front of a bathroom wall with the album title written on it in marker.
      • Even the "clean" NLDW cover (a picture of a pair of socks with "SUCK MY DICK" embroided on them) still fits here.
  • Creepy Circus Music: Provides a backing beat throughout "Double Helix".
  • Darker and Edgier: NO LOVE DEEP WEB (somehow) manages to be this despite the band already having some of the darkest output of any rap group, with both the lyrics and musical production being bleaker to commemorate the album's focus on atmosphere as opposed to The Money Store, which relied mainly on catchy hooks.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The first nine or so minutes of the "Come Up and Get Me" video is black and white footage of Ride going insane. It's also mostly silent.
  • Demonic Possession: The lyrics to "You Might Think..." depict Ride dying and possessing someone else through his spirit.
  • Deranged Animation: The music video for True Vulture, animated by Galen Pehrson and featuring voiceover work by Jena Malone of Donnie Darko fame.
  • Distinct Double Album: The Powers That B, which consists of two halves: Niggas on the Moon and Jenny Death.
  • Dream Team: Bjrk teamed up with them and contributed heavily to The Powers That B.
  • Drone of Dread: Frequently used in the instrumentals, notably in "Guillotine" and much of NO LOVE DEEP WEB.
  • Eldritch Abomination: One interpretation of The Powers That B.
  • Epic Rocking: "Beware", "I Want It I Need It (Death Heated)", "No Love", "Artificial Death in the West", "Whatever I Want (Fuck Who's Watching)", "Up My Sleeves", "Inanimate Sensation", "Beyond Alive", "The Powers That B", and "On GP" are all over 5 minutes.
  • Establishing Character Moment: "Full Moon (Death Classic)" was one of the first songs they ever dropped, and it pretty much sums up what the internet was in for.
  • Exorcist Head: Referenced in "Guillotine".
    The screens flashing red, can't see shit but heads
    Spinning exorcist like planets
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Especially in the sense that their beats are sample-based and often take instrumentation straight from those samples.
    • "Face Melter" samples, of all things, a Kodak printer.
    • The bass of "Hustle Bones" is an overmodulated and pitch-shifted motorcycle engine.
    • "System Blower" sampled its distinctive bridge from the sound of Venus Williams returning a strike.
  • Fading into the Next Song: Common in live shows, often involving "Takyon".
    • Niggas on the Moon commonly segues directly from one track to the next.
  • Follow the Leader: They've already started what is essentially a new genre, or at least a new concept of combining noise and harsh noise with hip hop.
    • Lo and behold, people were quick to draw similarities to Death Grips in Kanye West's album Yeezus.
  • Freudian Threat: The rather memorable line "I'm the coat hanger in your man's vagina," off of "Deep Web".
  • Genre-Busting: Good luck finding anything remotely similar... Yet....
    • B L A C K I E, dlek and clipping. take similarly extreme and experimental approaches to hip-hop, but none sound quite the same—or quite like each other.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The music video for "Culture Shock" is a tiny distorted videoscreen superimposed over a headstone, looping repeatedly. It's hard to see, but the footage on the screen is from a pornographic sex scene.
  • Harsh Vocals: One of the very few rap examples.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Used as the backing beat for "Blackjack".
  • Homage: The infamous cover of No Love Deep Web is both this and a Shout-Out to a Black Flag poster featuring a penis on it, right down to the angle of the . . . shaft.
  • Humanoid Abomination: MC Ride himself in a couple songs, like "You Might Think..." and "The Powers That B."
  • Idiosyncratic Song Naming: The tracks on Fashion Week all share a naming theme: the word "Runway", and then a letter. As the track listing shows, all of the letters spell "JENNY DEATH WHEN".
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Nay nay, Ride, we don't know what you're sayin'.
  • Instrumental: Fashion Week is a completely instrumental album.
    • "Cut Throat" and "5d" off of Exmilitary, which are both sort of instrumental interludes.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY: In "Guillotine," MC Ride pronounces the L sound in "guillotine" (which is usually silent) for the purpose of flowing better.
  • Lennon Specs: Andy usually has these.
  • Long Title: "You might think he loves you for your money but I know what he really loves you for it's your brand new leopard skin pillbox hat", which is often abbreviated simply as "You Might Think" or sometimes just "Hat".
  • Loudness War: Done on purpose, though not in a negative fashion. Exmilitary brings it to the point of Sensory Abuse.
    • Fortunately though, an unmastered version of The Money Store exists on the web and isn't hard to come by, and it avoids the brickwalling of the released versions. All the stems of Exmilitary also exist on the web, so it shouldn't be hard for anyone with the right programs to make their own master that isn't so abrasively loud.
  • Lucky Charms Title: No Love Deep Web is sometimes stylized as N LV∑ D∑∑P W∏B.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: MC Ride, in spite of his manic, frenzied onstage performances and ferocious vocal style, is exceptionally quiet, withdrawn, and soft-spoken in person.
  • Mind Screw: A lot of their music videos and promotional work are heavily reminiscent of totheark's strange diatribes.
  • Minimalism: "Hunger Games" uses this to an unsettling effect.
  • Miniscule Rocking: "5D" and "Cut Throat", both off of Exmilitary.
  • Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: Usually close to the harder end of the scale, with the 9-10 range being ideal and common.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Usually in the 7-10 range, with "Birds" and "Get Got" falling back to around a 4. "Full Moon (Death Classic)" may as well be a borderline 11.
  • Mondegreen: One of the lines in "Birds" says what innocently seems like "I had a bluebird / Now it's dead". However, lyric sites claim that it's actually "I had a bluebird / Now it's did".
  • Motive Rant: "Beware" can be considered one, as Ride lays bare his incredibly individualistic and nihilistic philosophy in it.
  • Murder Ballad:
    • "Takyon", which appears to be about a gunfight.
    • "Guillotine" mixes Boastful Rap and this.
  • New Sound Album: While they still fall under the umbrella of industrial hip-hop, each of their albums is this compared to the previous one. Exmilitary was a lot more hook- and beat-driven than their debut EP. The Money Store was considerably more electronic and less sample-based than Exmilitary, and NO LOVE DEEP WEB eschews catchy hooks in general in exchange for a deeper focus on atmosphere. Government Plates took this to a new level, with a much larger emphasis on experimental electronic production and much less rapping from MC Ride. And then Ride returned in a big way for Niggas on the Moon, which in general features more frenetic production, cleaner, quieter, yet far more absurd verses from Ride, and samples from Bjrk on every track. Let's not forget Fashion Week, which takes the roots of Government Plates and plays with them at will, having special amounts of freedom since it's a wholly instrumental album.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • The video for "Come Up And Get Me" features roughly nine minutes of black & white footage of MC Ride going crazy.
    • The instrumental for "Hunger Games" uses this.
    • Andy's website, ever since he's been missing, usually consists of a single cryptic phrase or image at a time, occasionally with hidden images in the code or whatever the ARG calls for.
    • The video for "Death Yon" has a masked individual cautiously exploring an abandoned office.
  • Not Quite Dead: Despite the band making a big statement that they were breaking up, they not only put out more music afterwards but left lots of fans in disbelief—not shocked disbelief, but "I know that this isn't true" disbelief. Soon enough, the band not only completed The Powers That B but confirmed on Facebook that their music-making days aren't quite over.
  • Number of the Beast: The opening line on "Takyon" is "triple six, five, forked tongue".
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: Parts of "No Love" and "Spread Eagle Cross The Block".
  • Odd Friendship: With Robert Pattinson. He's been photographed hanging out with Ride on several occasions and is apparently a huge fan.
    • Apparently, Pattinson was one behind the guitar riff of "Birds".
  • The Oner: The video for "You might think..." and the first video for "On GP". In fact, the latter has actually confused viewers as to whether it's video or a still image.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Some of the Powers That B tracks ("On GP" comes to mind) go from the band's usual experimental rap style and goes into full-on rap rock. It's essentially something you'd find on Exmilitary, but on steroids and crack.
  • Something Completely Different: The song "Birds" is weird, even for their standards. Partially because it's probably the least abrasive song they've ever made.
  • Performance Video: "The Fever" and "No Love".
    • "Guillotine", "Hustle Bones", "Double Helix", and "Come Up and Get Me" (after the 9-minute mark) have only Ride performing the song.
    • "Lock Your Doors" is their, uh... interpretation of one.....
  • Perpetual Frowner: Ride. He's subverted this on one occasion in the video for "You Might Think...", and boy it's creepy as hell.
  • Powers That Be: They have an double album called The Powers That B.
  • Pretty in Mink: After the "short film" in the "Come Up and Get Me" video, we see Ride rapping the song in a fur coat.
    • Sua Yoo appears this way on the cover of Fashion Week.
  • Rap Rock: For about half of Jenny Death, the band is joined by a live organist and guitarist. On GP takes this even further, featuring Andy Morin on bass guitar.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Oh, let us count the ways...
    • Epic Records giving you some Executive Meddling on your new album release? Just go and release the album for free immediately. Having an erect penis on the cover wouldn't hurt, either.
    • Government Plates and Niggas on the Moon, both deliberately made with high mindfuck levels in the experimental production.
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: MC Ride has a tattoo of a pentagram.
  • Sampling: Extensively. Often overlaps with Everything Is an Instrument (see above). The following examples are just some of the examples in their music.
    • Their debut EP's first track primarily samples Nancy Sinatra's "Lightning's Girl".
    • Exmilitary:
      • The album starts with the famous "I roll the nickels" clip by Charles Manson.
      • "Klink" primarily samples Black Flag's "Rise Above".
      • "I Want It I Need It" primarily samples Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive".
      • "Lord of the Game" features the "I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE!" clip from Arthur Brown's "Fire".
      • "Spread Eagle Cross the Block" primarily samples Link Wray's "Rumble".
  • Scary Black Man: MC Ride, and how.
  • Scenery Gorn: The video to "Inanimate Sensation" is shown through the TV display of a basketball court—which has just fallen off the ceiling and gone straight through the floor.
    • A lesser case in "The Powers That B," which consists of sped-up footage of Stefan and Zach cleaning up a torn-open beanbag chair.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Like most rappers, MC Ride tends to stack his vocals—but given his trademark style, this is how it tends to come out.
  • Sensory Abuse: Sometimes, mostly on Exmilitary, which is probably the loudest of their releases.
    • The odd, screechy synth section towards the end of "Guillotine" stands out.
    • The instrumental of "Punk Weight" is as abrasive as all hell, and sounds like your speakers are being busted.
    • Most of their videos have intentional glitches and spaced-out effects, such as visual static. "Full Moon" is probably the most glaring example of straight-on optical abuse, considering a good portion of the footage of Ride in that video is played while flickering intensely.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: "Culture Shock" and "5D" off of Exmilitary.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The song title "You might think he loves you for your money but I know what he really loves you for it's your brand new leopard skin pillbox hat" is of course a Bob Dylan lyric.
    • "Hunger Games" kind of goes without saying.
    • See Exorcist Head above.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: A rare rap example—if you heard Stefan speak, you'd never believe he was MC Ride.
  • Slasher Smile: The video for "You Might Think...". It's the one time Ride isn't always frowning, and after watching the video, you'd wish it would stay that way.
  • Soprano and Gravel: On the track "Lord Of The Game", featuring Mexican Girl.
  • Stoic Spectacles: Andy.
  • Stylistic Suck: Their songs are intentionally brickwalled and compressed to a brutal degree, and their videos are about as close to a live-action Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff as you can get. Take the videos for "Guillotine", "The Fever (Aye Aye)", and "Takyon", for example.
    • This applies to the visuals for Government Plates. A music video was made for each song, and most of them include rotating 3D art looping over and over on a black background.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: Subverted—save for "Get Got," their calmest songs musically tend to be their heaviest lyrically.
  • Surreal Music Video: All of them.
    • "Guillotine" has Ride rapping the lyrics in the passenger seat of a car, with a majority of the screen being consumed by grainy distortion.
    • "The Fever" has the band performing the song, but with an extremely weird, darkening filter on top of the footage.
    • "Full Moon (Death Classic)" switches between Ride ferociously rapping as the footage flickers to no end as well as grotesquely candid footage of one bird preying on another.
    • "Come Up and Get Me" has a 9-minute "short film" at the start, which treats us with largely silent black-and-white footage of Ride going insane.
    • "No Love" is a Performance Video with the footage split into two parts put up against each other; one part is completely tinted red, and the other is tinted green. Not to mention the sliding captions at the bottom that are in an order such as this: "on the first day I gave a fuck", "on the second day I did not give a fuck", "on the third day I gave a fuck".
    • "Double Helix" has Ride rapping the song from various car back-cameras, sometimes aggressively humping the camera or even doing handstands on the car.
    • "I Break Mirrors With My Face in the United States" is shot from a camera hooked up to one of Hill's drumsticks, so you can see it flying wildly about.
  • Take That: In "Hacker":
  • Textless Album Cover: Fashion Week.
    • The Money Store, if the "DEATH GRIPS" carved onto the masochist's chest doesn't count.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: NO LOVE DEEP WEB is kind of like their version of this. The majority of the sounds are produced from basic synthesizers and 808 drums, and there are comparatively few instances of what can be identified as samples. Hill has, for the most part, traded his drumkit in for some electronic drumpads.
    • Government Plates can be argued to be even more stripped down.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Used frequently, usually molded into Ride's famous "BEEYOTCH".
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Applies to the band's discography as a whole, but really gets explored on Exmilitary.
  • Title Scream:
    • The chorus of "Takyon". Good grief.
    • "Spread Eagle Cross the Block" starts with Ride shouting the song title three times. The same sound clip is reused later in the song.
    • The beginning portion of "I Break Mirrors With My Face in the United States" features Ride doing nothing but repeatedly shouting the song title.
  • Title Track: Their self-titled debut EP, No Love Deep Web, Government Plates, and The Powers That B all have one. Well, NLDW is a bit unique, in the sense that there are two tracks named "No Love" and "Deep Web".
  • Trope Codifier: Industrial rap. While groups like The Disposible Heroes of Hiphoprisy had been combining industrial elements with rap and hip-hop since as far back as the late 1980s, Death Grips' sound has come to define the style since their inception.
  • Uncommon Time:
    • "Death Grips (Next Grips)" and "Spread Eagle Cross The Block".
    • The vocal part of "Big House" is in 7/8.
    • "Hunger Games" is a subversion. It's in 4/4 time, but the rhythm is... uh.... batshit insane...
    • Death Grips don't generally use a lot of strange time signatures, but they do use extensive syncopation and other strange musical features.
      • The main riff of 'Come Up and Get Me' gets insanely syncopated around the middle before abruptly coming back at the end.
      • 'Full Moon (Death Classic)' is crazily offbeat, having some parts where Ride ignores the rhythm entirely (i.e. the 'buck buck buck buck' bit).
      • The first verse and last hook of 'You Might Think...' both seem to kind of ignore the rhythm behind them. (Additionally, it's in 6/8.)
      • The notes that the guitar plays in the verses and choruses in 'Birds' are of incredibly uneven and unnatural lengths. Same with the synths in the second section of 'Bootleg (Don't Need Your Help)'.
      • Ride's sampled vocals on 'Whatever I Want (Fuck Who's Watching)' are weirdly syncopated.
      • 'Anne Bonny', 'Two Heavens', 'Feels Like A Wheel', 'Big House', and 'Bootleg (Don't Need Your Help)' all include abrupt tempo changes at some point in their duration.
  • Up to Eleven: To the point where anything below 11 is highly out of the blue. As Anthony Fantano stated, when it comes to them, "everything becomes extreme."
  • Vulgar Humor: The leaked version of NO LOVE DEEP WEB features cover art that is nothing more than a photograph of a penis. An alternate cover, released a few days later, is a picture of socks with "SUCK MY DICK" embroided on.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Ride, more often than not.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Andy Morin was missing from October 2012 until SXSW 2013, and it has yet to be addressed or explained.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Not too extreme, but still fits here; "Takyon" is most likely derived from a tachyon, a hypothetical particle that travels faster than light.

Please stay legend.